No fewer than twenty persons have been reportedly killed by suspected militias that invaded Tawari community in Kogi LGA, of Kogi State.
The suspected militias are believed to be herdsmen.
The Sole Administrator of the local government, Musa Tanko Mohammed, however confirmed that 19 persons died in the midnight invasion.
An eyewitness said that the invasion was a reprisal attack by the militias.
The recent killing of four suspected kidnappers, allegedly of Fulani stock, along the Lokoja-Abuja highway by security agencies, following a tip off by vigilantes from Tawari community, was said to have angered the militia, who in turn attacked the community.
Another account has it sometimes last year, a herdsman was allegedly killed and his body mutilated by suspected ritualists for which his fellow herdsmen pointed accusing fingers at the Tawari community and threatened a reprisal.
But, following persistent persuasion by the community head, Alhaji Yahaya Tawari, the herdsmen lived with their host community in peace until few days ago when they started moving out en masses.
Efforts were said to have been made to pacify them but the herdsmen said their movement was a way of life, assuring that it bore no ulterior motives.
Another eyewitness account put the number of the dead at 23.
The LG administrator however confirmed that 19 persons were killed.
He described the incident as very unfortunate, but assured that efforts were on to return normalcy to the area.
As at the time of filing this report soldiers have been deployed to the community while the Kogi Commissioner of Police, CP, Ede Ayuba Ekpeji, was on ground to monitor the situation and provide support.
The attackers also razed the palace of the Third Class chief in the area, Alhaji Yusuf Idris, alongside several other houses.
The CP, in a statement, described the attack on the people of Tawari community in the early hours of Friday, as unfortunate.
He condemned such attacks in it entirety, and extended his message of condolence to the traditional ruler of Tawari, the entire community, the Kogi LG and the Kogi State Government, over the unfortunate incidents.
He assured the people of the community of the command’s efforts to restored normalcy in the area.
The statement, which was signed by the state’s police spokesman, William Aya, added: “He (CP) deployed Special Forces, Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, Counter Terrorism Unit, Police Mobile Force, as well as the conventional police, to the area to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
“He has ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of Investigation to commence investigation, so as to unravel the cause of the attacks.
“He appealed to the law abiding people of the state to volunteer useful, timely and credible information to the police and any other security agencies, on the activities of criminal elements in the state.”
Deputy Governor Kogi State, Edward Onoja, condemns the incident live on Channels Television this evening and said he would visit the community tomorrow. He said everything will be done to get the people responsible.